The House committees running the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump released more deposition transcripts Monday, driving another busy day in the investigation. Here’s the latest:
Concerns at the Pentagon — Newly unsealed closed-door testimony sheds light on how the White House acted directly and unilaterally over the summer to hold aid that Congress had earmarked for Ukraine. The freeze, which testimony indicates was part of a pressure campaign by President Donald Trump, caused alarm among US defense officials at the Pentagon and in Kiev, according to Laura Cooper, a Pentagon official.
CNN’s reading team is writing about Cooper’s testimony, in which she said the White House began asking questions about the aid almost as soon as it was announced over the summer and that the questions seemed to stem directly from a briefing for Trump. There was concern at the Pentagon that holding the funding, which had been approved by Congress, could break the law, she said.
The quickening — Impeachment investigators also released transcripts of testimony from Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, Ukraine experts who advised then-US special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker. The investigators are moving more quickly, it seems, to set the stage for the public hearings Wednesday. Keep up to speed at CNN.com.
Get off my lawsuit — Democrats are going public this week with their impeachment case, but there is an increasingly odd fight among Republicans about how and whether and why to comply with House subpoenas. White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney agreed to file his own lawsuit asking courts for clarity after complaints from the legal team of another impeachment witness when Mulvaney tried to barge in on theirs. Despite Mulvaney’s request, the White House says there’s no distance between Mulvaney and the White House.
The week — We know of three definite witnesses Democratic investigators have scheduled for public impeachment inquiry hearings. There will be at least one additional week of hearings, although we don’t yet know who they will feature.
The current top US diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, will lead things off Wednesday along with George Kent, who oversees Eurasia policy at the State Department. Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will come Friday.
Other work to do — In related news, the US government will run out of money next week unless Congress and Trump can agree on a funding bill by November 21.
New White House line? — The whistleblower isn’t even a whistleblower, according to Jordan Sekulow, the son of Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, on his father’s radio show.
Message delivered in May — A lawyer for Rudy Giuliani’s indicted associate Lev Parnas said Giuliani directed Parnas to issue an ultimatum earlier this year to a representative of incoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to The New York Times, warning him that if the new government didn’t announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, the US would freeze military aid and Vice President Mike Pence would not attend Zelensky’s inauguration. (There’s no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden in Ukraine.)
Impeachment Watch Podcast
I hosted the podcast Monday and talked to CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, who was on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.
The view from the country
The inquiry is mobilizing Republicans who support Trump, he said, and is barely mentioned among Democrats. That could be in part because Democrats are largely unified on the issue.
We also talked about whether there’s a hidden damage to Joe Biden from all this.
Julie Pace, the Washington bureau chief for The Associated Press, previewed this week’s congressional testimony and whether there are any minds for Democrats to change with these impeachment hearings. Listen here
Biden town hall — Read the takeaways from Joe Biden’s CNN town hall Monday night.
Do you see what Nikki Haley did there?
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley dished about her time in the Trump administration, but not about Trump. Rather, in a new book, she said former White House chief of staff John Kelly and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had tried to recruit her in their efforts to blunt the force of Trump’s will.
“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the President, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley writes.
She said Sunday on CBS that “it was offensive.”
But she also basically confirmed that Trump’s handpicked Cabinet was actively trying to deal with him and that key members saw a higher loyalty to the country than to the President, which may have kept them next to him longer.
It’s the same thing we hear from Anonymous, the senior administration official who also has a new book out, warning against a second Trump term.
Who will sell more books? Nikki Haley or Anonymous?
Haley, Tillerson and Kelly are all gone from Trump’s official orbit and in very different ways: Tillerson and Kelly got the boot, but Haley got a grand sendoff. She’s rare as the Trump administration official whose reputation was not diminished by her time in the White House. Indeed, she ingratiates herself with Trump supporters in this new book while at the same time trying to elevate herself from him.
That’s master politicking.
But it makes working in the Trump administration sound downright ulcer-inducing.
What are we doing here?
The President has invited foreign powers to interfere in the US presidential election.
Democrats want to impeach him for it.
It is a crossroads for the American system of government as the President tries to change what’s acceptable for US politicians. This newsletter will focus on this consequential moment in US history.